An array of factors contribute to the collision repair center’s success. For starters, the company already owned the land where the center was built, which is a big advantage given the high cost of real estate.
Then there is the facility itself, which features 20 collision-repair bays, two heated downdraft paint booths, two heated paint stations and four estimating and delivery bays. The spacious facility is designed to maximize efficiency, Diehl said.
Technicians are certified to work on virtually all brands of cars, including a dual certification from electric-vehicle startup Rivian to work on both electric cars and electric fleet vans. The collision center is the only dual-certified Rivian facility in western Pennsylvania, Diehl said.
“Getting technicians OEM-certified is expensive, and some brands are more expensive than others,” Diehl said. “But it’s well worth the expense to be able to take care of more customers.”
Other circumstances have also generated revenue growth.
The new-car shortage, for example, has helped goose sales because consumers are opting to repair their vehicles instead of buying new ones, Diehl said.
“We’ve also been successful because we do quality work, we have the right team in place and the Diehl brand is well-recognized in the Pittsburgh area,” she said. “We’ve built up a very good reputation.”
Competitive pricing has contributed to success as well.
“We do a lot of price shopping to be sure we’re competitive in the marketplace,” Diehl said. “We constantly monitor that and do the same in our service departments.”
The collision centers offer a five-year guarantee on repairs, which differentiates them in the marketplace, she said.
Despite the center’s success, it wasn’t all seashells and balloons at the beginning. After the pandemic began, car insurance collision claims dropped as business lockdowns dramatically decreased the number of vehicles on roadways.
“It was a scary time,” Diehl said. “We took in a lot more fleet-repair work to get through it. We reached out to everyone and anyone for business — did everything we could to drag cars through the doors — and discounted our prices.
“But it worked,” she said. “Car dealers are very good at the survival game.”
The ongoing parts shortage makes operating a collision center difficult. Some vehicles have been stranded at Diehl facilities for up to three or four months. Loaner vehicles are hard to come by, too, Diehl said.
Regular communication with customers helps ease their frustrations, she added.